Employee Spotlight: Lori Carlson reflects on 34 years with UPHS

Following a 34-year career with UPHS, Lori Carlson is set to retire in November. Lori is the Quality Director at UPHS – Bell and was originally hired with Marquette General Hospital in 1985. With her retirement coming up, she reflected on her time spent with UPHS.


What drew you to Bell? 

The culture that is so evident at Bell today. How staff always greet each other and our patients with a smile; it’s a true reflection of the caring environment we work in.

What is it like to reflect on your career working with UPHS? 

I have so many bittersweet memories of the people I have worked with and the patients I have cared for. There have been many memorable experiences; seeing patients and families return to a healthier state, and at times sharing in their loss. The personal and collegial relationships we have formed, which will last a lifetime.

How have you seen UPHS change over the years and what was it like to experience those? 

In my early years at UPHS, nurses wore white uniforms and nursing caps, no hair beyond your shoulder. (I resembled Marge Simpson with my nursing cap perched on top of my head as my hair was extremely long…Yikes). Gone are the whites, scrubs are now in. Surgical patients stayed for up to a week, and now many go home the same day or the next. It’s amazing how UPHS has evolved as a system, with the various new facilities and technology.

What is your favorite memory or memories of working at UPHS? 

The friendships I have made over the years with colleagues I have worked with. They are an extended family to me, as we have shared so many life experiences together such as births, watching our children grow up and graduate, as well as other milestones in life, and the camaraderie amongst the team.

What was your motivating factor to start working in health care? 

The game Operation fascinated me as a child and I thought of being a physician. However, as a candy striper in high school, I noted it was the nurse who tended to the patients the most and provided care and comfort.

What was a typical day for you? 

There isn’t one, as every day has various needs that need to be addressed. Review all of the patients who are currently in house to determine who may be at risk for harm and how are we preventing such risk. Then there’s data abstraction and submission to regulatory agencies, CMS, joint commission, pay for performance, patient complaints, occurrence reporting investigations, etc. There is never a dull day, which has made the role both interesting and challenging at times.

People would be surprised if they knew:  

Early in my career, I was an orthopedic flight nurse for a search and rescue/recovery team in Northern Arizona. 

Tell us about your family.  

Married to my best friend, Don, for 31 years. Have a son Kyle, daughter-in-law Abbey, and the most adorable grandson James, 15 months. There are also two German Shorthair Pointers, Karlie and Kellie, who are my couch buddies when we are not bird hunting.

Name something on your bucket list. 

To return to Italy and the Island of Murano.

What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most? 

Knowing that I hopefully made a difference in someone’s life by assuring they received the best quality of care we can provide.

 Do you have a favorite quote? 

“Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So, love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get the chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.” – Dr. Seuss.

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